Ringgold and the Future

Personal Money Planning |

By Gary Silverman, CFP®

There’s a lot about the proposed Lake Ringgold project that I don’t understand. I have no expertise in water management or geologic hydraulics. Heck I just made up the term geologic hydraulics (though it might be a thing) and my first draft spelled Ringgold wrong.

But since I’m probably in the same boat as most of you (no pun intended…until I realized I made one), and since I have to write something each week, I thought I’d give you my two cents. Heck, I’ll make it four cents. Added to everyone else’s two cents about this project might pay for the thing.

My first two cents: No one knows if we need the lake.

Given that, it seems obvious that we should not spend our money and people shouldn’t have to give up the use of their land in order to build it. But…

But no one knows that we don’t need the lake.

“But Gary, I’ve read that someone said that we definitely don’t need it.”

“No Gary,” says another, “I’ve read that someone definitely said that we need it.”

My response is this: first there are too many “buts” in this article. And second, both someones are right. That’s because depending on what assumptions you make, either side can be right. It all depends on the future. Will this area grow in population and industry to the point where an additional water supply is needed, or will we stay stagnate? Grow and we need the water. Stagnate and we don’t.

“We can just wait and see. There’s no reason to spend a lot of money on something we don’t need.” In a way, that’s the easier choice and the right one if we don’t grow. However, if we grow to the point where our water supplies aren’t adequate in a drought situation, and then decide to build the lake, it will be too late for that growth spurt.

As you may have noticed, getting a big lake built takes a while—measured in decades. We got lucky in the last major drought. It was relatively quick to pull together the ideas, supplies, and money for the water reuse system. Hats off to the people who made that happen. But if we grow, then we’ll need something else. And Ringgold (with two g’s) is something else.

Wait until it is a proven fact that we need it, growth will stop. People need water. Industry needs water. So first people and businesses that are looking to move here won’t. Citizens will start moving away. And if our existing employers see the writing on the wall (or the dust clouds on Lake Arrowhead) they’ll start pulling out as well. All this because if you tell everyone to just be patient and wait a couple decades to take a shower and run their industrial processes, they’ll just shake their heads, close the trunk, and drive away.

Which will solve the water problem—less people, less industry, less water demand.

And that’s my other two cents: status quo or growth. If you want growth then you know you’ll need an answer for the water situation even if it costs a lot of money and forces some folks to move off their land. If you want things to stay as they are, then your aim would be to save money and not put people off their property.

Which will it be?